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How to label warehouse racking

Be systematic logical warehouse rack labelling

As a business owner or operations manager, you’ll understand the value of organising your warehouse. A crucial part of your warehouse management system is labelling its stationary shelving units, also known as racks. Know how to label warehouse racking effectively and you’ll boost overall efficiency. Get it wrong and expect nothing short of mayhem.

After all, systematic and easy-to-read labels enable pickers and packers to find and retrieve items as fast as possible. Your racks should be labelled throughout the entire order fulfilment journey to guide these workers and help you keep tabs on inventory storage locations.

Not sure where to start?

In this handy guide, we explain warehouse rack labelling importance, ideas and best practices, so that you can discover the benefits first-hand.

Read on to learn how to label warehouse racking effectively.

What is warehouse rack labelling?

What is warehouse rack labelling

Labels are an absolute must for any business that stores or transports inventory with warehouse racking.

A warehouse rack label tends to feature two types of information:

  • A barcode, which is scanned to transmit key product information when stocking, back ordering, and confirming order details; and
  • Numbers and letters for manual inventory organisation, picking and packing.

There are also other types of warehouse rack labels, like RFID tags and magnetic labels. The most suitable kind comes down to your warehouse needs and budget.

Regardless, all labels share the same ultimate advantage: the ability to find items fast and easily anywhere in your warehouse.

Now let’s dive further into the benefits of warehouse rack labelling.

Why warehouse rack labelling matters

Labelling racks might appear to be a minor task, but it has a major effect on the efficiency of everyday warehouse operations.

Firstly, when each item is allocated a specific spot, employees can swiftly locate what they need. That means less time searching and faster fulfilment.

Additionally, this approach also lessens the likelihood of losing or miscategorising items and other inventory mistakes. Well-defined labels facilitate inventory management, making each rack’s location and contents clear.

Last but not least, labels can display load capacities and other crucial safety details, helping to lessen the risk of harmful warehouse incidents.

Long story short? Effective rack labelling can result in quicker, safer, and more precise order processing.

Warehouse rack labelling ideas

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how to label warehouse racking – the most effective method depends on your facility and operational requirements.

That said, here are some general best practices for pallet rack labelling that every warehouse should follow.

Be systematic

Be systematic logical warehouse rack labelling

Above all, clear, consistent and logical warehouse rack labelling is key to success. The following tips will help you to set up a systematic system:

  1. Utilise the same labelling strategy across your warehouse for all inventory. From where you apply your labels on each rack to how product information is displayed, this system should be uniform throughout.
  2. Match the addresses on labels to those employed in pick path plans. For unrivalled consistency, use your existing warehouse management software (WMS) to both produce rack labels and devise pick paths.
  3. Assign each shelf, rack, and section with a unique identifier within a sequential system that uses a combination of numbers and letters. This will help employees to pinpoint an item’s precise location, and your warehouse to scale without confusion.
  4. Ensure the SKU and/or UPC for each item is easy to find and read, even in a busy space. For example, place all rack labels at eye level, use high-contrast colours and adopt an intuitive labelling system that makes sense to warehouse workers.

Select between serpentine and standard labelling

The two most common methods for organising warehouse rack labels are known as the serpentine and standard labelling approaches. Each strategy brings its pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your warehouse’s layout and distinct needs.

Serpentine rack labelling

With the serpentine approach, labelling for each row of racks continues from the end of the previous row, but in reverse. This layout ensures that each subsequent item category is near the last numbered location.

Labels are applied from left to right until the end of a row, whereafter the labelling continues from right to left and so on. This creates a back-and-forth pattern.

This zig-zag method is named after its likeness to a snake’s winding movements. Rather than traversing the full length of racking to access the next product, workers can easily navigate to the nearest end of the adjacent shelf.

Serpentine labelling is a common choice for several reasons:

  • It allows pickers and packers to quickly memorise specific product locations.
  • It saves time as employees don’t have to cross an entire rack length while picking orders – a major bonus is bigger warehouses.

Standard rack labelling

The standard method of rack labelling prioritises ease of item tracking over movement efficiency. In this system, products are labelled using a parallel structure, with a strict sequential order in each row. Labels are arranged from left to right, starting anew from the leftmost space in each rack. Typically, the labelling format follows the aisle, bay, level, and slot.

As spaces are vertically aligned throughout the aisle, this approach makes it easy to know exactly where items are stored.

But it can also lead to more backtracking for pickers as they follow their pick lists, potentially resulting in a less efficient path through the warehouse.

So, which method should you select?

The speedy and straightforward serpentine labelling method is great for a fast-paced warehouse environment or lots of SKUs because it enables pickers to navigate racking quicker without doubling back. However, if you require a more orderly and dependable system, the standard method may be a more reliable solution.

Choose the right label material

Always consider the surface that your labels will be attached to when selecting their material. Options include adhesive stickers, magnetic labels, or metal tags. The decision hinges on your budget, as well as the desired level of label adaptability and durability.

For instance, paper stickers are generally a speedy and cost-effective solution, but they tend to be less resilient than metal labels, which are more durable in demanding warehouse conditions.

Start from the bottom up

Begin labelling from the lowest level of racking and work your way up. This scalable method accommodates future growth, such as adding more shelves or relocating to a larger warehouse, as it avoids the need for re-labelling.

Adopting a bottom-to-top approach also reduces the risk of damaging goods, since labels are less prone to being torn off or displaced.

Moreover, this strategy can lead to time and cost savings by eliminating the need for employees to pause and look up product details.

With this system, label your lowest row as “01”, followed by “02” for the row above, and so on. This two-digit labelling can offer more flexibility as your warehouse expands.

How do you label pallets?

How do you label pallets

Pallets play a crucial role in your warehouse and must be appropriately labelled to keep operations running smoothly. Follow these best practices for pallet labelling:

  • Implement a sequential numbering system, with a unique code assigned to each pallet so that it’s easy to tell whether a pallet has already been unloaded.
  • Apply labels to both sides of each pallet for quick identification – even if the pallet is stored against walls and not in use.
  • Avoid covering labels with plastic wrap, which can get in the way of successful scanning.

Purchase the right warehouse pallet racking in Sydney

Warehouses can become cluttered and chaotic very quickly without the right organisation. The resulting inefficiencies can not only delay order fulfilment but ultimately harm your bottom line.

Thankfully, you now know how to label warehouse racking for maximum ease and efficiency! By establishing and sticking to a clear labelling system, you can help to ensure your warehouse stays orderly and operates without a hitch.

Need to find the right pallet racking systems first?

At Pallet Racking Sydney, we provide cost-effective, durable and custom storage solutions for any warehouse.

Our premium range includes Schaefer selective racking, plus cantilever racking, longspan shelving and racking accessories.

Shop online or contact Pallet Racking Sydney today.

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